Each week, Collin uses his HVaC Scoring System to let you know who to start and drop this week in head-to-head fantasy baseball leagues. This week’s players to avoid:
Pitchers made a living on getting Will Middlebrooks out by pitching him down and away last year. He struck out 95 times and nearly half of them were on pitches in that zone.
In fact, he saw nearly twice as many pitches down and out of the zone away than in any other part of the plate. So far this year, that has not happened.
Pitchers are going up and in just as frequently. Owners are gravitating towards Middlebrooks because of the small sample size and the impressive .333 ISO in 32 at-bats, but his RBI totals would be concerning as the 57 projected for the season would keep him with one less per week than the positional average the rest of the way. If you would not have drafted Middlebrooks to begin with, picking him up now is not for you either.
Dayan Viciedo (28.11)
Many people are quick to jump on a hot streak and owners are doing that across many formats with Viciedo. The question is his ability to sustain his production. The career .269 hitter is currently hitting .341 thanks to a .405 BABIP and is walking twice as frequently as last season.
The HVaC numbers indicate a player who will be below average in runs, RBI and H/PA plus one who will score and drive in a full run less per week than the average starter.
Adam Dunn (11.99)
The HVaC continues to have Dunn outside the top 20 first basemen available at this point. His early production is fueled by a combination of increased walks (thanks to a swing rate five points off last season) and a BABIP that is 70 points better than his career mark and 90 points better than last season (.356). Certainly, this is helping his average early on but it won’t last.
Pablo Sandoval (11.94)
While his low BABIP of .208 should return to a more respectable level given his career numbers, Sandoval was not liked by the model at the beginning of the season and found himself outside of the top 15. He still finds himself there. The problem with Sandoval is he struggles in two key categories that are needed at third base: home runs and RBI. In both of these he falls well below average, making him easily replaceable.
A.J. Burnett (30.69)
Burnett, whom HVaC sees as the 45th-ranked pitcher the rest of the season, has seen his ownership in ESPN leagues rise 15 points in the last seven days. Unfortunately, there are some red flags here. His strand rate is five points above last season while his HR/FB rate of 4.5% is seven points below what he has done over the course of his career. Factor in an ERA of 2.15 compared to an FIP — which measures what a player’s ERA should be assuming that performance on balls in play and timing were league average — of 3.57 and there should be some pause for those looking to add him to their rosters.